Leading teams in which three different generations coexist is a challenge, hands down. With workforce numbers shifting, it’s one that leaders have to face now more than ever before. Last year, millennials officially became the largest generation in the US workforce, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of US Census Bureau data, surpassing both baby boomers and Gen X-ers.
How do leaders continue to bring teams together across this great generation divide? Check out Arden Coaching’s three leadership techniques for bridging the generation gap between teams below.
Tip #1: Establish That There’s No Right or Wrong Generation
If you’re leading a team that’s made up of workers of all ages, you may notice several underlying precedents shaping the greater opinions of the group. The first step in helping each generation help one another (and in turn help the team) is to make sure that everyone understands that no one generation is right. Just because the baby boomers in the bunch have been in the industry longer than the millennials have doesn’t mean that what they say is law. The same applies to Gen X-ers and millennials.
Instead of falling into the line of thinking that revolves around right vs. wrong, instill a sense of curiosity in your team and urge them to be open to how other people operate.
Tip #2: Encourage Team Members to Learn to Speak in the Another Generation’s Language
Next, you want to encourage (and maybe even challenge!) each generation to dabble in the other’s preferred communication method and way of thinking. Take a walk in their Bostonians, heels, or sneakers, so to speak. This means millennials will have to learn how to engage with other team members via old-school face-to-face interaction and baby boomers need to learn how to text.
Reversing roles like this helps each generation get a feel for how the other operates and better understand the world that they were raised in. Skill sharing is a great way to make the most out of the huge range of innate talent that each generation possesses. Setting up a mentorship program is another great way to facilitate cross-generational learning.
Tip #3: Make Bridging the Gap Fun!
It’s important that you approach bridging the generation gap as a learning experience that all three generations can gain from. Start by having open discussions with your teams about it. Acknowledge how having team members from different age groups come together can work to the team’s advantage. You can cultivate better ideas and come up with more creative solutions to challenges that the team faces.
To make addressing the gen gap between teams fun, set up knowledge-sharing opportunities for multiple generations to participate in. Have the traditionalists attend a millennial talk on technology, have the millennials do a talk on the history of the company, and have the Gen X-ers do a presentation on the art of the cocktail hour.
When you use the generation gap to your team’s advantage, everyone benefits!
Bring Your Multi-Gen Team Together at an Offsite
If you have multi-generational teams who are struggling to see eye to eye, holding an offsite facilitation can provide a successful venue for fostering discussion and helping multi-generational teams learn the best methods for working together.
Interested in exploring if an offsite may be right for your multi-gen team? Download our free eBook The Executive’s Guide to Successful Offsite Facilitations. This guide is jam-packed with helpful information and tips from Arden’s coaches who double as fearless offsite facilitators. Download your free copy now!